THIS WAS REALLY GOOD AND I LIKED IT.
What, that doesn't constitute a review? Maybe I've been yelling about Harry Potter for too long...
OK, so there's this:
"Little Edie Herzen, having a bad day, was making the slowest walk up a flight of stairs in the collective history of walking and stairs."
I mean, right?
The Middlesteins is the story of a Jewish family in Chicago going about the business of living and loving and not strangling each other even though FAMILY. It was excessively wonderful. Attenberg's characters were really well drawn, and even when they were being upsetting, they were sympathetic. She changes perspective between the family members throughout the story, allowing the reader to understand the characters more, to see that, when they're being insufferable, they generally know it and feel bad about it. This is redeeming. This is familiar.
The main story follows Edie and Richard, their marriage and struggles, and Edie's fixation on food. It spans generations: we see Edie as a child, we see her children as adults. It follows Edie and Richard's children as they find themselves having to take control and be the responsible, adult ones in this new parent-child relationship. It touches on how grating it is to learn that your parents are just people. Sometimes, not even good people. So not a new story, but not tired, either. Not in the way Attenberg tells it.
And did I mention it's funny? Funny with tragic overtones, but funny all the same. I will be reading through Attenberg's back catalogue, for certain.